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Europe, US to seek freedom for Bulgarian AIDS medics facing life in Libyan prison

[JURIST] Western nations said Wednesday they would continue working to free five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor [JURIST news archive] who were sentenced to life in prison [JURIST report] in Libya [JURIST news archive] after being accused of infecting hundreds of children with the HIV virus. The medics were originally sentenced to death [JURIST report], but the Libyan Supreme Judiciary Council commuted their sentences Tuesday. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin [official website] told the BBC Tuesday that "the case will end once they come back to Bulgaria" [BBC report]. Bulgaria has granted citizenship to the Palestinian doctor, so that it can negotiate for all six medics.

The EU echoed Bulgaria's sentiments, with European Commission President Jose Barroso and Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner issuing a joint statement [text] saying they hoped for a solution that would return the medics to the EU as soon as possible. Before news of the commutation broke, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters [transcript] that the US still believes "these nurses and medics should be allowed to return to their own home country immediately." EUobserver has more.

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